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What to Look For When Reading Nutrition Labels

Do you know what's in your food? When it comes to the pantry and frozen food staples, it's important to check the nutrition labels. You might already do that, but without learning what you should be looking for, there may be a slew of sneaky additives you could be missing out on.

The next time you stock up at the supermarket, take a closer look at those labels to see if what you're putting into your cart is really healthy, or something you may want to leave on the shelf. Here's HOW!

1. Know that the first few ingredients are crucial

For every packaged product, the ingredients are listed from highest to lowest quantity. Those first three ingredients will tell you much of what you need to know. So, if you see anything refined, composed of sugar, or any hydrogenated oils at the beginning of that list, you may want to skip it. And in general, be cautions about packages that have a lengthy ingredient list filled with words you cannot pronounce or understand.

2. Pay attention to serving size

When checking out the calories, fat, nutrients, and other contents, most packages will not them for a single serving. Serving sizes on packages are usually much smaller than that you'd typically eat as a portion. Be mindful of this serving size trap.

3. Watch out for those buzz words

Something that is labeled as "light," low-fat," or "low-cal," might sound healthier, but it usually means it's watered down or more sugar has been added in to compensate for the taste. On another note, "multigrain" usually consists of a blend of refined grains, instead of the whole-grain impression it touts. "Fruit-flavored" and "All Natural" are other popular ones you'll see. Study up on these definitions so you know what they truly mean, instead of taking them at face value.